The two passages that are included in the course material here are incredibly similar:
- They both have menacing figures
- The faces of the figures are covered creating a feeling of ill-ease and distrust, threat
- They are clothed in a black hooded robe, long, dark and evil-looking
- The figures don’t speak
- The figures, rather than speaking, utter odd noises; breaths or sniffs
- The figures keep their distance
All of these elements are incredibly frightening and create a very unique, haunting atmosphere….it’s going to be hard NOT to draw on these techniques for the next exercise but here goes!
A Menacing Presence:
Holly wasn’t sure what was behind the door in the attic. She’d gone to visit Granny and Granddad many times before, but she couldn’t remember seeing this door before.
Slowly, she pressed her small hand around the cold brass doorknob and turned. It gave way with a slight squeak and the door yielded, releasing a slight draft of musty, moth-ball smelling air from within.
For some reason, despite it being a gloriously hot summers day, Holly felt a chill run up and down her spine as she entered the long, thin dormer room. Cobwebs hung from the rafters which criss-crossed before her. The two sloping ceilings either side held it all together and the floor was a series of creaky wooden boards that stretched to the far end.
Holly stepped into the room. Her heart was thumping. Maybe it was because she knew her grandparents didn’t know that she was here was the reason she felt on edge?
She walked very gently onwards and soon spotted a tall, gilt-edged floor-standing mirror propped up in the corner. Cobwebs hung in swathes over it along with many years worth of dust and Holly instinctively wiped her sleeve against the glass. Beneath the grim, her reflection quickly emerged. Seeing herself standing in such a strange, cold, confusing room unnerved Holly and she turned away from it.
All at once she froze. She couldn’t say what was immediately in front of her causing her to feel instant and paralysing terror because she couldn’t see anything. But needless to say, whatever it was had her rooted to the spot. She was completely incapable of doing anything except breathing short, raspy gasps that staccato-tapped the motionless air.
Holly knew she wasn’t alone. There was something, someone with her. The air crackled around her with some sort of energy. Holly was only 10 years of age but she knew, acutely, that whatever was here with her wanted her gone.
She didn’t know what to do. She felt her eyes prick with tears and her body began to shake uncontrollably. She shut her eyes. Holly did this routinely when in bed and a thunderstorm battled the skies above their house at night. It made her feel safe; she would then open her eyes when the storm had passed.
And whilst there was no thunder or lightening to pass now, Holly felt there was a storm of a different kind happening all around her. No amount of eye-shutting was going to help her now. She needed to get out and now.
She turned back towards the mirror. A shard of light from one of the dormer windows had crossed the top right segment of the reflective surface and for a fleeting moment, Holly thought she saw something looking back at her. A tall motionless outline shimmered behind her. There was no distinct detail, no face, no hands or feet. Just this looming, threatening outline that leered at her.
The only way out for Holly was to pass by, or, God forbid, pass through it. She didn’t want to imagine taking her body through this entity. Was this what people called a ghost? Holly knew without doubt that this was more than just a ghost; it was a Thing.
At the end of the long, silent room Holly could see the door, deliberately left open slightly, creating a thin slither of light that outlined the left side of the entrance. It was now her goal, her escape-route; her sanctuary.
How was she going to move when every limb, every muscle felt so incredibly numb and heavy? She was only able to face the mirror by pivoting slowly on her tiptoes. She hadn’t needed to lift a foot or move a leg. And the tremors ricocheting through her body now was rendering her almost incapable of getting her breath under control.
She blinked quickly over and over. The dust in the air was drying her eyes and she was having trouble focusing. Now that she was effectively facing the Thing, there was absolutely nothing to see, no shimmering outline, no suggestion of anything. It was what Holly felt that terrified her the most.
Suddenly, and with the most terrific sense of urgency and spontaneous energy, Holly ran. She screwed her eyes tightly and flung herself forward, her arms guiding her blindly through. As she moved forward, she knew that she must be passing through It and at once felt her stomach lurch upwards. The tops of her shoulder blades felt ice cold and she thought she could be sick.
She kept running, bashing into the rafters, the sloping ceiling walls, a chair, a wooden chest, more obstacles than she cared for. She knew that she would be covered in bruises in days to come. For what felt like an eternity, Holly now opened her eyes and continued forward as quickly as she could.
As she reached the door, she actually thought about glancing back; she paused even as her hand took the brass handle once more. The Thing was still there, watching her leave; she could feel it. Holly considered that if it did have a face, its expression would be one of triumphant smugness. It had succeeded in getting her out of its space. For that, Holly was determined to pull the door open and close it behind her as quickly as possible.
As the door closed behind her, Holly stood still, her back leaning against the wood, her hands shaking furiously. Swathes of dust and grim were spread all over her T-shirt, through her hair, up her arms. How was she going to explain this to her grandparents?
She closed her eyes once more and tried to get her breathing under control. As she did so, the loudest most furious crash came from behind her forcing Holly to leap away from the door….